Towering transit of Venus

By Phil Plait | June 14, 2012 7:00 am

OK, look, I know I’ve posted a lot of Venus Transit pix, and it’s been a week now, so you have to know I wouldn’t post one this late unless it was really awesome.

I present to you really awesome… Part 1:

Wow! This was taken by friend-of-the-BABlog Alan Friedman. To shoot this video he used a filter that lets through light from hydrogen, and that shows lots of solar activity like sunspots and filaments. The video is a negative, which makes it easier to see faint details on the surface, and which makes Venus look white instead of black. But I like how he kept his telescope centered on the Sun as it set, so it looks like it’s the tower moving into the field of view instead of the usual shot of the horizon held steady while the Sun sets. Very cool.

[Update: For those asking about the tower, Alan sent me this photo to clear things up.]

But he did more than take video: he took his usual jaw-dropping, stunning, ridiculously cool photos as well, like this one… really awesome, Part 2:

[Click to ensolarnate.]

Yegads. He’s done some photographic trickery to bring out details — he made the Sun’s face negative like in the video, but used false color to make it reddish, and then had to specifically make Venus look dark again (are you following this?). I actually rather like the red and green together; Alan notes there’s a watermelon thing going on there.

Mmmmm, watermelon.

Anyway, I have to admit, when I asked for pictures of the Venus Transit, I was expecting almost all of them to be straight photos of the Sun with Venus silhouetted against it, but instead got such a wonderful and dramatic variety of photos that’s it’s been a real thrill to see them. I’ve appended the gallery of photos at the end of this post, and check out Related Posts just below to see more images of the transit as well as more amazing pictures taken by Alan.

Image credit: Alan Friedman, used by permission.

Related Posts:

Solar Cinco de Mayo
Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the Sun
Sic transit, glorious
How could I NOT post this Venus Transit picture?
Interloper of the Venus Transit
Venus orbital plane


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (16)

  1. Chris

    Keep posting. We won’t be able to celebrate this for another 105 years. Have to make it last.

  2. Tom

    I love how the second photo looks almost as if it’s a virus or some cell from the human body as opposed to a celestial body. Gives it an almost metaphorical sense. Thanks for the pictures!

  3. Kevin

    Fantastic image! It bears a very strong resemblance to an electron micrograph of a grain of pollen:

    There’s something profound in that similarity.

  4. Please keep posting. Love these. I did find one passage photo you missed, but it wasn’t of Venus.

  5. Georg

    Those towers,
    (similar towers are there in Kourou?) what is their
    Lightning arrestors?

  6. JAK


    The fist picture in your post brings up this message instead of a picture.

    “This website/URL has been blocked until further notice either pursuant to Court orders or on the directions issued by the Department of Telecommunications”

    I am accessing the site from India. Not sure which country is responsible for this filter or for that matter which government found transit of Venus objectionable :-)


  7. Jon Hanford

    @7 Jak,

    The “Department of Telecommunications” is your clue that India is blocking the content….specifically targeting Vimeo, for some mysterious reason:

  8. Navneeth

    I read someone on UT say the same thing about Vimeo being blocked in India, but I can access it normally, without resorting to proxy servers. [oops!] Can’t imagine life without those awe-inspiring astro/landscape time-lapse videos, much of which is found in Vimeo.

    Oh, and spectacular shots of the Sun from Mr. Friedman yet again! *yawns* What’s new? ūüėČ

  9. David

    The video reminds me of “Quatermass and the Pit”. :)

  10. Alhazred

    That is certainly one of the most awesome images of the Sun I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Mr. Friedman!

  11. labcad

    Georg, those towers look rather like the forest of radio and television towers at the top of Mount Wilson (yes, the one with the Observatory) east of Los Angeles, California. See the photo mentioned in BA’s update. Anyone know where Mr. Friedman took the images at?
    And, yah, wow, amazing detail, awesome transit images.

  12. Georg

    Hello labcad,
    You are right! I just looked for “Mount Wilson” in Google


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